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All power tends to corrupt.....

While he was speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.. One of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? Matthew 26: 47-54


In AD 33, Jesus the Messiah in the middle of the night outside the city faced a “great crowd with swords and clubs”. It seems that one of his close followers (they had all dined together that evening) also had a sword.....


You may say: “How unlike a “Christian” to use a sword like that!” Really? Are you sure that Christians don’t repeatedly use swords, even daily?


A sword provided its user with additional power – power over and above his or her actual physical and personal strength.


On that basis, money is power. Do “Christians” use money to achieve their ends? Even amongst other Christians, money still speaks clearly. As does property ownership. Should swords like that be “put back in [their] place”?


Also, what about the sword of influence – influence which arises from position and authority in life? Should that “sword” be used in support of Jesus, to advance Christianity? Must influence be “put back in its place”?


If Christians are to follow Jesus without using any swords whatsoever, there must be a good reason why not. Jesus gave two – see bold above.


First, “all who take the sword will perish by the sword”. Swords, whether metaphorical or real, wield power. Power contains, at all times, the threat or actuality of real and painful harm to others. Followers of Jesus are not to threaten, or cause, harm to others – by using power.


Second, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” A Roman legion was a cohort of 6,000 fighting men. Twelve legions = 72,000 men. If Jesus had wished to escape from the “great crowd with swords and clubs” he could have outnumbered them by using tangible power.


He would then have failed miserably to display his own and his Father’s real and supreme inner intangible power – the power, the ability, the resolve actually to die a cruel criminal’s death for his enemies – to die in their place so as to bless them with incalculable blessings.


Why use the power of 72,000 armed and fighting men when there was another superior power available? A power that would change enemies into friends – change them completely – but only if the power of the sword (every kind of sword) remained unused.


Take a look at the final sentence in the extract above. “If angels are sent to help me”, Jesus said, “how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” What must be so? The Israel National Archives, their Scriptures, stated that their Messiah must die.


Here’s one – written around BC 710 by a man named Isaiah, living in Jerusalem. World Empires surrounding his tiny nation were replete with swords and power. This Scripture had to be fulfilled -

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.


This BC 700 Scripture precluded the use of force by the coming Messiah. Jesus, 700 years later, showed us all his own inner intangible strength – strength to die for his enemies. Why do his followers flex their harm-full muscles? Are they really his followers? Will they die --- for others? 

‘The greater the power the more dangerous the abuse.' (Edmund Burke, statesman, 1729-1797)
‘The pursuit of power can separate the most resolute of Christians from the true nature of Christian leadership.'  (Charles Colson, Chief Counsel for President Nixon 1969-1973)
Richard Syvret

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